With players from three categories and five generations, Sebastien Pocognoli put together a new team for Genk’s Youth League match against Juventus. Ndenge Kongolo, the youngest member of Poccognoli’s 11, was barely 16 years old. The goal: a coveted place in the Round of 16 of the Youth League.
After a minute of silence for the victims of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and with black armbands worn by the players, our boys started what was a difficult task. With two teams that wanted to play football, it was an enjoyable first half. Possession was mainly for the sturdy Italians, but our boys were also able to create chances on the counter a few times. In the first minutes, Chambaere was placed to deny an Italian attack from the left. But the goalkeeper at the other end couldn't rest on his laurels either, as had to pull out all the stops to stop Nolan Martens' free kick. Five minutes before the break, the biggest chance fell to our Genkies. Decresson, who had come on for the injured Cutillas Carpe, brought the ball nicely in front of goal, where Arabaci nodded the ball over the bar. After a pleasant first half, we went into the break with the score 0-0.
The second half was paused for several minutes after Juve captain Dellevalle went in too hard on Rotundo's knee. The Serbian referee did not hesitate to produce a red card and send him to the dressing room. Juventus, however, were not immediately impacted. After a free kick was sent in towards Chambaere, our boys couldn't immediately get the ball away, which made it dangerous in our penalty area. Fortunately, this came and went without any real danger. At the other end, the most danger was coming through Arabaci, cutting in from the right. His effort just hit an Italian leg and narrowly went wide. Just past the hour, Juventus were down to nine men. Joseph Boende went down a little too eagerly in the area and got a second yellow for diving. Playing 11 against nine, our boys put the pressure on. But we didn't really have any big chances initially, even if it was nervy for the other side and Anghelè saw his effort come off the woodwork. In the last seconds of the game, our boys had a last chance to win, but the Italian goalkeeper stood firm. It thus went to penalties to decide who would move on to the next round.
Vic Chambaere played a leading role in sealing the result. After Daffara had saved Genk's first penalty, our goalie masterfully denied Anghelè's kick into the bottom right corner. With things tied at 3-3, he took the responsibility to drive the ball confidently into the roof of the goal. Yildiz had to do the same to keep Juvé's chances intact, but his ball hit the post. It was 4-3 and KRC Genk reached the Round of 16 of the UEFA Youth League.
This is how our boys ended up in the draw, set to take place in Nyon, Switzerland, together with big names such as PSG, Manchester City and Real Madrid. The Round of 16 is scheduled for February 28 or March 1.
Chambaere, Martens, Al Mazyani, Ndenge Kongolo, Caicedo, Van De Perre, Arabaci (Toure 82’), Claes (Karetsas 82’), Cutillas Carpe (Decresson 39’), Rotundo (Smekens 73’), Nuozzi
Van de Perre 0
Al Mazyani x
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